Belong: What does it mean?

Relationships and social connections provide us with a sense of belonging, which is essential for our mental health. Belonging to groups, whether formal or informal, large or small, local or even international, contributes to our identity and our sense of who we are.

You can belong to all sorts of groups such as a sports team, a car club, a book club, a group of friends in your street, your local community or an online community. Feelings of belonging are particularly important in schools and workplaces. New arrivals, whether from overseas or other parts of the country, often lack family support and old friends. In these cases new connections can be made at the workplace or the children’s school or by linking up with other recent arrivals in various cultural or other associations.

Grandad was a health expert too...

Grandad was the great participator...

He was a member of lots of groups: his fishing buddies, a book club and the local footy club to name a few. I think it was his variety of friends that made life so enjoyable for him and made him so interesting to us. He always knew someone to call to help him out – or, more often, help one of us grandkids out.

Grandad said being part of a group gave him a real sense of belonging. Health experts say belonging helps define our sense of identity and satisfies our psychological need for friendship, making us mentally healthy. Maybe Grandad knew that all along.

What's your Belong score?

Answer the following questions and find out how much you Belong.

Friends and Family

Q1: How often do you get together with a group of friends, workmates or family for outings, meals or special events?

Local Community

Q2: How often do you attend community events?

(e.g. music festivals, theatre, markets, local sporting events, school fairs, residents’ meetings, local government events, local business groups, local ‘clean up’ events)

Specific Interest Groups

Q3a: Do you belong to any formal or informal groups, clubs or organisations?

(e.g. sports club, car club, book club, fitness group, dance class, theatre group, social club, cooking group, card group, hobby group, cultural or ethnic group)

Large Public Events

Q4: How often do you attend large public events such as major sporting fixtures, major musical events, or any events where there are very large crowds?

Paid Employment

Q5: If you are in paid employment, how much do you feel part of a close knit team?

Your Belong Results

Belong Score

Retake questionaire

When you have finished the Guide and started on some of your plans, answer the questions again after a month or so and calculate your score. Then do it again 3 months later and 6 months later

Belong more with friends and family

Belong more

Who would you like to see more often? Perhaps there is someone from your past or present job or school that you would like to spend time with doing things together.

TIP: Make a promise to do a group activity once a month and put it in your diary!

Get involved

Consider starting an activity night (or morning) like a movie night, games night, cooking night or cards night.

As you think of how to Belong more, keep in mind how you can also be active. For example, joining a book club increases belonging and keeps your mind active; joining a sports team increases belonging and also keeps you physically and socially active.

Belong more by attending community events

Events near me

What sorts of things go on in your local suburb or community? Markets? Swap meets? Music concerts? School fairs? Arts or theatre events?

TIP: If you’re a bit shy, or even if you’re not, invite a friend, family or neighbour to attend with you.

Get involved

Visit your local community centre, or look in your local newspaper or the community notice board at your shopping centre, or the local library or on the internet for an upcoming community event that you think you might like to attend.

Write it down in your calendar to make sure you don’t miss it.

Belong more by joining a club or group

What are you interested in or would like to become interested in? Could you attend current groups more often? If you are from overseas, perhaps you would like to join an ethnic or cultural group.

Some examples of clubs you might like to join

  • Scrabble, Bridge, Chess or Bingo group.
  • Car club, footy club.
  • Book club, choir, dinner, music or theatre group.
  • Nature and conservation group.
  • Cycling, swimming, dancing or walking groups.
  • Volunteer organisations, e.g. Salvation Army, the Samaritans, the Red Cross charity and fundraising groups.
  • Service clubs like Lions or Rotary.
  • Ethnic or cultural clubs.
  • Men’s Shed.

If you already belong to a group or are a member of an organisation, could you be more involved? The deeper your involvement, the stronger your sense of belonging to the group.

If you already are involved in a group, have you thought of getting a friend you know is lonely to join in? What about asking a friend to involve you in some of their social or community groups?

Get involved

Use the “Activity Finder” tool or do your own research to see if there are any groups or clubs doing the activity you like. Collect all the important details and make an enquiry.

If there isn’t a group in your area, why not start your own?
If you join a new group, research shows it’s important to keep attending. After about seven appearances, you will be feeling like a regular.

Additional Belong information

The Department of Sport and Recreation Clubs Online (WA only)

Search for local sports and recreation clubs.
clubsonline.dsr.wa.gov.au/find-a-club

Meet Up

Search for local social groups and clubs, or create your own group for members of the public to join.
meetup.com

Grow

Peer support program for people with a mental illness and people experiencing difficulty coping with life’s challenges.
grow.org.au

Men's Shed

Provides free practical support and assistance. Focuses on male health and wellbeing.
mensshed.org
Email: amsa@mensshed.net

Community Arts Network WA

Explore, express and develop skills through art production.
canwa.com.au
Phone: (08) 9226 2422